Are you looking for a simple, effective, natural all-purpose cleaner to clean your home? If so, this recipe is for you! All you need is 2 ingredients and 2 minutes.

I’ll show you how to make the best all purpose cleaner recipes using vinegar or castile soap! Made with simple ingredients that are cheap and easy to find. With fantastic cleaning power, these natural cleaners will clean your whole house, from living room surfaces to the bathroom sink and tub to door handles.

All purpose cleaner in a clear glass bottle on the countertop in the kitchen.

Key Takeaways

  • Two Ways – Below, you’ll find two recipes for all-purpose surface spray!
  • Essential Oils – If you prefer a scented spray, add your favorite essential oil to the spray, like lemon or peppermint essential oil.
  • Multi-Purpose Cleaning – Use this spray to clean almost any surface in your home. I’ll give you all the details below.
  • Storage – Store this recipe for up to 1 month.
Two bottles of all purpose spray.

Before You Get Started: What You’ll Need

  • To make these recipes, you’ll need either liquid castile soap OR white vinegar and distilled water. You’ll find all of these ingredients in the grocery store.
  • You’ll also need a 16-ounce spray bottle. Glass or plastic both work.

How to Make DIY All Purpose Cleaner: Step-By Step Guide

These recipes are wonderful natural cleaning solutions and are far cheaper than any store-bought cleaners. Here are the two best ways to make an all purpose cleaner without harmful chemicals…

Recipe 1: Vinegar All-Purpose Spray

  • 1 16-ounce glass spray bottle
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar or homemade orange peel vinegar (vinegar infused with orange or lemon peels)
  • 1 cup distilled water (water with impurities removed; found at any grocery store)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon Sal Suds (a detergent-based soap that may be mixed with vinegar and is tough on dirt, grease, and soap scum)
  • Optional: 15-30 drops of your favorite essential oil


  • Add the vinegar, water, and Sal Suds or essential oil (if using) to the spray bottle.
  • Place the spray nozzle on the bottle and gently shake the bottle to combine the ingredients. You’ll want to do this each time you use the cleaner.
  • Spray the surface directly, then use a cloth to wipe and clean the surface.

White Vinegar

Found at any grocery store. White vinegar is 5% acetic acid. The acid fights against bacteria. Vinegar can’t be used on every surface (like marble and granite). Even with these limitations, vinegar is an extremely versatile product that can be used to clean a variety of surfaces. Make it extra special and use orange or lemon rinds to create a citrus-scented vinegar for cleaning

More vinegar cleaning ideas and recipes…

Recipe 2: Castile Soap All-Purpose Spray

  • 1 16-ounce glass spray bottle
  • 2 cups distilled water (water with impurities removed; found at any grocery store)
  • 2 tablespoons scented or unscented liquid castile soap OR 1 teaspoon Sal Suds (a detergent-based soap that’s tougher than castile soap) 
  • Optional: 15-30 drops of your favorite essential oil


  • Add the water to the spray bottle, followed by the castile soap (or Sal Suds), and (if using) essential oil of choice.
  • Place the spray nozzle on the bottle and gently shake the bottle to combine the ingredients. You’ll want to do this each time you use the cleaner, particularly if it’s been sitting and the ingredients have settled or separated.

Castile Soap 101

An ancient soap made from natural ingredients and comes from the Castile region of Spain, giving it its name. This soap doesn’t contain any animal fats or synthetic ingredients (including synthetic preservatives and fragrances). It’s made in two forms: liquid soap and bar soap. For this recipe, use liquid soap.

More castile soap cleaning ideas and recipes…

Step-By-Step Recipe Video

Which recipe should I make?

That comes down to preference and also what you’re cleaning. Some things to consider…

  • Make the castile soap all purpose cleaner if cleaning sensitive stone surfaces, such as granite or marble. Do not use vinegar on these surfaces.
  • Make the castile soap cleaner if you hate the smell of vinegar.
  • Make the vinegar cleaner if you don’t mind the scent of vinegar.
  • Make the vinegar cleaner if you want a solution that also cleans glass, mirrors, and windows.
Cleaners in a cleaning caddy.

Want to add an essential oil? The best options

Essential oils are NOT required ingredients to make effective homemade cleaners, but they can add a lovely scent and beneficial properties.

You’re welcome to add an essential to either all purpose cleaner recipe. Here are a few of my favorites.  

  • Tea Tree Oil: Known for its antibacterial properties, tea tree essential oil is commonly used to make natural cleaning products. 
  • Peppermint: Adds a fresh, vibrant, minty scent. 
  • Lavender: Adds a calming scent. 
  • Orange or Lemon: A fresh, citrusy scent. 
  • Germ Fighter Blend: This is a blend of individual essential oils. Each brand has its own name for this blend, some call it Thieves Oil, while others call it Germ Fighter. Usually a blend of lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, clove, and rosemary essential oils. 

What is an essential oil?

Essential oils are concentrated oils derived from plants. For those wanting a more scientific definition, here’s how Retha, a certified aromatherapist from Plant Therapy, defines an essential oil,  “An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation, often by using steam.

Learn more about essential oils…

Essential oil chart
Choose your favorite essential oil, or skip the essential oil. Completely optional.

What to Avoid Doing

  • Vinegar on Stone – Don’t use a vinegar-based cleaner on granite or marble. The acid can wear away at the stone. Instead, use the castile soap cleaner.
  • Mix Vinegar & Castile Soap – I know, it’s a popular combo on Pinterest. But the two ingredients should never be combined in one bottle to make a cleaner. The result will be an oily mess. Read more about why this happens.
  • Add More Castile Soap Than Recommended – More is not always better. When making the castile soap surface spray, stick with 2 tablespoons of soap. Castile soap is highly concentrated so a tiny amount goes a long way. Adding more will only result in a white residue left on surfaces.
  • Essential Oils – Always be cautious when adding essential oils to DIY cleaners, particularly when young children or pets are in the home. Some essentials oils may be toxic or harmful to pets and young kids. There are many lists online that breakdown safe and unsafe oils to use in these situations. 

How to Use Homemade All Purpose Spray

Use either of these natural cleaning recipes just like any commercial cleaner.

  • First, spray the surface directly with cleaner of choice. 
  • Next, use a cloth or paper towel to wipe the surface clean (or a toilet brush for the toilet).
  • If you’re using the castile soap cleaner, go back over the surface with a damp cloth, rinse and repeat.
All purpose cleaner on a wood table.

What surfaces can I clean?

Before using a cleaner on household surfaces, always spot test first before liberally spraying any hard surface. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use an all purpose cleaner.

  • kitchen surfaces: sink, cooktop, oven, counter tops, (do not use vinegar-based cleaners on marble or granite), inside the fridge, tile and grout 
  • bathroom surfaces: sink, tubs, counter tops (do not use vinegar-based cleaners on marble or granite), tile and grout 
  • kitchen table and chairs 
  • toilets
  • dusting surfaces (I recommend using a microfiber cloth)
  • dirty toys
  • door knobs
  • lightswitches
  • stainless steel surfaces
  • interior car surfaces
  • glass and mirrors (only the vinegar cleaner; the castile soap cleaner will leave streaks OR make your own glass cleaner with rubbing alcohol and vinegar)


  • Can I leave out the essential oil from the Castile soap recipe? Yes, you can skip the essential oil in either recipe. You’ll still make a fantastic cleaner without it!
  •  Can I use filtered water instead of distilled water? When making homemade products, filtered water may be used for temporary solutions, but for longer-term storage, use distilled water (found in any grocery store) or boiled water (boil for 15 minutes, then cool) to limit the possibility of bacterial growth.
  •  Are plastic spray bottles okay to use as well as glass? Yes, you can use either plastic or glass spray bottles.
  •  Have you ever used the all-purpose surface cleaner with castile soap on wooden surfaces such as the kitchen table? Yes! I use this cleaner on many of the wood surfaces in our home without issue. Always spot-test a small area before applying any cleaner on a surface.
  •  Could I use alcohol or Vodka instead of distilled water? That way, it would last longer & have more germ-killing power. Yes, you could make this substitute.
  •  How do I prevent the castile soap cleaner from leaving a white residue on surfaces? This issue can occur when castile soap is mixed with hard water. Using distilled water to make the recipe should help. But if this problem is still happening, wipe the surface with a wet cloth, rinse, and repeat until the white residue is gone.
Two bottles of all purpose spray.
4.75 from 44 votes

DIY Homemade All-Purpose Surface Cleaner: Two Ways

The two best ways to make an all purpose surface cleaner. Use the spray of your choice to clean your whole house, from the kitchen and bathroom to living room. There's no job these homemade recipes can't tackle!
Kristin Marr
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course DIY, Homemade
Cuisine Cleaning
Servings 1 16-ounce bottle (per recipe)
Cost: $2


Castile Soap All Purpose Surface Cleaner

  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 2 TB liquid castile soap (scented or unscented) OR 1 teaspoon Sal Suds
  • 15-30 drops essential oil of choice (optional) lavender, peppermint, orange, or lemon, etc.

Vinegar All Purpose Surface Cleaner

  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 15-30 drops essential oil of choice (optional) lavender, peppermint, orange, or lemon, etc.
  • 1 teaspoon Sal Suds (optional) for cleaning grease, picking up dirt on surface


Castile Soap All Purpose Surface Cleaner

  • Pour the water into a 16-ounce spray bottle (use a funnel, if needed). Add the castile soap and essential oil. Gently shake the solution to combine. Store at room temperature for up to 4 weeks.

Vinegar All Purpose Surface Cleaner

  • Pour all the ingredients (vinegar, water, and if using Sal Suds or essential oil) into a 16-ounce spray bottle (use a funnel, if needed). Shake the solution to combine. Store at room temperature for up to 4 weeks.
  • How to Use
  • Gently shake the spray bottle before spraying the cleaner on the desired surface. Spray the cleaner and wipe off the surface with a damp cloth (this is important when using the castile soap cleaner since it can leave a soapy residue if left to dry)! Do NOT use the vinegar cleaner on marble or granite.



Castile Soap Residue: Castile soap can leave a white residue on surfaces if not wiped down with a damp cloth. Also, hard water can cause a residue on surfaces when the soap interacts with the water. If this happens, just wipe the surface with a clean, damp cloth. Rinse and repeat.
Lemon Juice Note: In the video, I add lemon juice (1/2 lemon, juiced) to the vinegar cleaner. If you plan to store the cleaner for a few weeks, I don’t recommend this addition. If you’d like to add lemon juice, you’re welcome to do so. Do not add lemon juice to the castile soap recipe as the acid will not mix with the soap.
If you love making homemade products, you’ll also love these recipes: glass and mirror cleaner, tub and sink scrub, floor cleaner with vinegar, stain remover, and homemade laundry detergent
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

4 Must-Make Natural Cleaners for Your Home

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  1. 5 stars
    Hi Kristin,
    thank you for sharing these great all purpose cleaners! I am in the middle of spring cleaning and want to make sure that I am only using natural cleaners from now on. It’s been an eye opener how much we can actually clean with just a few pantry items as opposed to the shelves full of highly marketed cleaning brands in the supermarket!! I will use your cleaning recipes from now on in our home :). Much love from Melbourne, Katrine x

  2. Hi, can you please comment on the need of distilled water vs regular tap water? I have all the other ingredients and plan on paying with essential oil for different fragrance.

    Also, are there any essential oils that should NOT be used in cleaners?


  3. I love the recipes but I was wondering if I could use alcohol or Vodka instead of distilled water. That way it would last longer & have more germ killing power. Thank you. God bless.

    1. Hi this is Philip from South Africa. I am absolutely amazed by your home made cleaners and comments from your audience. I am looking forward in trying this out.
      Please provide me a starting point stage to stage. Will really appreciate that. Kirsten you amazing. These cleaners adds up to a small fortune by the end of the year. Take care.

  4. Hi. I’m new to your site and so far think it’s great. I’m currently using the same spray bottles you have from Sally’s organic and have used a myriad of others. I find that whenever I use a homemade cleaning solution The sprayer only lasts for 3-4 batches before the rubber inside deteriorates and I need a new sprayer. I’m going with your Castile soap recipe for this batch (all previous attempts have included vinegar, borax, or washing soda). I would love to have a vinegar spray at the ready but don’t know how to get around the sprayer issue. I don’t want to keep having to throw out sprayers. Thanks!

    1. Hey Erin, Welcome to Live Simply!
      Hmmm, is the cleaner sitting for a long time? My thought is the vinegar may be causing the rubber to erode–a very common issue with rubber and vinegar. I use vinegar in my Sally’s amber bottle (the Sal Suds and vinegar spray cleaner here on the blog), and haven’t had issues, but it also only lasts about 2 weeks at a time. The Sally’s bottles usually come with a cap as well. My thought is maybe you could use that cap for storing the vinegar cleaner and then place the spray nozzle on when you need to use the spray.

      1. Thanks, Kristin. I don’t think the cleaner is sitting more than a couple of weeks but I could be wrong. I’m going to go with you recommendation of storing the vinegar solution with the cap on and see how that works.


      2. My husband figured out that it wasn’t the gaskets corroding that was causing my sprayers to fail (although this had been a problem previously), but rather the piston was getting gunked up, presumably because of our hard water. A little olive oil on the piston every couple of batches has fixed this problem.

  5. 5 stars
    What a wonderful product.
    Like always, with good humour, well described with absolute perfect photos (that is in fact why I linked into this website) and good explanations.

    This product is the best thing that ever happened to me (I am not a house-lady)! It eases everything, cleans everything so well, dries quickly.

    As a present to my sister and my mother in a nice bottle – they use it regularly. My sister ONLY cleans all surfaces with this cleaner and has asked me for the link of the site.


    1. Hey Roxanne, When it comes to cleaners, both will work. I tend to stick with white vinegar, since it’s cheaper and it doesn’t leave any sticky residue. I’ve found that some apple cider vinegars, particularly the ones with the “Mother”, may leave behind a sticky residue on some surfaces.

  6. Hi, I am making some of the diy cleaning products I come across online and one of my favorite site is yours. My question to you is you have mentioned that water base all surface cleaner should be used quickly because of possibility of growing bacteria in the water. I would like to make four to five bottles at a time. So do you mean to say, I should not be making in bulk.

    1. Hey Kelly, As long as you don’t have granite or marble, I’d use 100% vinegar. You could also use the same technique for disinfecting cutting boards using vinegar and then hydrogen peroxide: If you have granite or marble, then I can share my granite disinfectant with you (it’s in my cleaning book)…just let me know :).

      PS: I’m finally back at our health food store working today in the cafe, so I’ll respond back to the wine comment shortly ;).

  7. Kristin

    Are the essential oils necessary for the cleaning power? I have enjoyed using the oils, but do not like all the glass bottle waste. While I realize they can be recycled, I would prefer to either bulk fill them, which I cannot find anywhere or to just reduce use.

    Let me know what you think.

  8. Woah! Your homemade collection looks so good that I actually want to revise my own and make it all fancy and gorgeous. Is this silly of me? 😀
    In the past, my mind was always predetermined when it comes to DIY cleaners, I don’t know why, but I always thought they were somewhat gimmicky. I don’t know, I didn’t think they have the same power as the store-bought products.
    But more and more of my close friends turned to green cleaning and were quite happy with it. This was my only reason to even try in the first place (well, saving some money sounded pretty darn awesome too). And I was so glad that I did.

    For all the people out there that are wondering whether or not to make that transition, my advice is to just try it out. You don’t have to completely exclude your favorite cleaners from your shopping lists. But try using just one homemade product and see the difference yourself. It’s life changing.

  9. 5 stars

    How long do you have to let the cleaner sit for it to be a good disinfectant? Do you recommend the vinegar solution for that?

    I have made several batches of the laundry soap and LOVE it! Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Hey Jessica, For the vinegar spray, I would let it sit for about 15-20 minutes, or longer depending on the surface. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the soap!

  10. I am interested in making this surface cleaner, but I do have granite countertops. As far as the essential oils are concerned, which ones are safe for granite countertops? Thanks so much. I just found your blog and am loving it!

    1. You can use your Apple Cider Vinegar glass bottles for spray bottles. I have a few different homemade cleaners using these bottles. Hope this helps you out.

  11. 5 stars
    I love the surface cleaner; I made the cleaner with castile soap as I have marble and granite counters. Worked beautifully and the bathroom smells clean and fresh with no chemical smells!

  12. Would you say these work better than your previous cleaning solutions? I’m pretty hooked on your bathroom cleaner recipe, I use it for everything. 😉

    1. Hey Bethany, That’s a great question and, truthfully, one of the greatest challenges I faced as I wrote the cleaning book. There are so many ways (formulas) to clean a home naturally. The solution that’s right for one person may be different for another (based on scent preferences, ingredients at hand, etc.). My personal opinion is to use what you love and stick to it (as long as it’s not Windex or ammonia ;)…you know what I mean). So, I’d say stick with bathroom cleaner for everything–it’s really amazing stuff!

  13. Hi Kristin,
    I just watched this video and wanted to drop you a quick note. A friend recently taught me about Norwex microfiber cleaning cloths. I searched your site to see if you had a post about their microfiber with BacLock, but didn’t find anything. I so don’t want to sound gimmicky, but I was wondering if you have tried it (I would have emailed you personally, but couldn’t find how)?? I was making homemade cleaners too, but have found I need almost nothing besides the microfiber (like the EnviroCloth) and water. You should check it out if you haven’t heard about it yet, because even my floors I clean with only the microfiber pad and water…I am LOVING it! It is so much faster, and I am keeping up with the cleaning better! With four kids myself and as much as we do from scratch, this is helping me in my daily routine so much!

    1. Thank you for sharing, Laura. I’ve heard of Norwex and received a microfiber cloth a couple of years ago as a gift, but never used it. I still have it in my toolkit, so I’ll try it out. I use a microfiber cloth for cleaning mirrors, etc. Do you know what the difference is between the Norwex cloths and cloths sold at Target (or any store ;))?

      PS: For the future, if you need to email me: [email protected] :).

  14. 5 stars
    I love your diy! I can’t wait to try them 😀

    I’m moving to California for 6 months, so I’d like to know your opinion about organic food delivery at home. Do you think services like are a good choice or Target and Trader’s joe are cheaper?

    Thanks a lot ^_^

    1. Hey Valentina, Thank you so much!

      I believe California can be a pricey state when it comes to food. I definitely recommend pricing everything out when you get there and comparing prices between the options. I’ve heard the farmer’s markets in California are pretty amazing, so that may be a very affordable option. I’ve used a delivery service and liked it, but found myself still shopping at the store for produce.

      PS: Your blog is gorgeous! I can’t wait to read more.

      1. It’s a good idea, I’ll have trader’s joe, walmart – any chance to find something organic? – target and safeway at a walking distance from home, so I’ll made a little comparison while there! Thank you so much, I’m happy you like my blog ^_^

      2. Hello Kristin,
        Thank you so much for all your hints and tips for green cleaning, especially doing all the niggly research! I was curious to find out whether you use the castile-based or vinegar-based surface cleaner more and why? I am a homemade cleaning novice and this will be my first time making something at home so would be great to know which to start with. Many thanks, Charli

      3. I like the vinegar cleaner. I don’t have stone surfaces in my home and I don’t mind the vinegar scent.

        LS Team

    2. 5 stars
      I was just wondering about the essential oils in the recipe. I have always heard they were toxic for cats, and I wanted to be sure this is non-toxic for my furbaby. Thanks.